D.A. Office warns of scammers looking to profit from forgotten bank accounts

A forgotten bank account or insurance policy can be a target for fraudsters seeking to make a profit, according to the latest fraud warning from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on Friday.

“You might have a bank account or insurance policy you are not aware of, but before you start searching, be careful about hiring someone to help,” said Deputy District Attorney Duke Chau.

Through what is called the unclaimed property scam, investigators or asset locators will reach out to individuals and offer their services to locate long-lost money.

“There’s a catch, though,” Chau said. “In exchange for their assistance, they will usually demand an up-front fee or a percentage of whatever you’re able to collect. These services are unnecessary and may be illegal.”

All inactive properties belonging to banks, insurance companies and other businesses must be turned over to the State Controller’s Office. This information is freely accessible to the public. Investigators are prohibited by law from contacting the owner to offer their services once an unclaimed property is reported.

The D.A.’s office recommends the following steps in order to avoid falling victim to scammers:

  • Do your research before signing any contracts with asset investigators. Avoid any unnecessary signing.
  • It is illegal for investigators to charge more than 10 percent of the property’s value.
  • Go to ucpi.sco.ca.gov to freely search for any unclaimed property.

Those interested in more information can follow @LADAOffice on Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date news. The above information was shared with The Signal via a news release from the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.

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